After years of investigative work by the Justice Department and other governmental agencies, 21 individuals were sentenced in July, 2018 for defrauding over 15,000 victims from 2012 to 2016 in an elaborate phone scam operation. Indictments were also issued to 32 conspirators located in India.
The scam worked like this: A person posing as an IRS or immigration official would phone the victim through call centers in India and would threaten them with arrest, deportation or other penalties if the victims did not pay their “debts” immediately with prepaid cards or wire transfers. The call centers would then turn the information over to a network of “runners” based in the US who used the cards to purchase money orders that were then deposited to a bank account.
Examples of victims include an 85- year old woman in San Diego paid $12.300 to people claiming to be IRS employees who threatened her with arrest for tax violations, and a New Hampshire woman was told to pay the IRS $3,980 in debit cards as the caller ID showed up as “U.S. Government”.
The longest prison sentences include three men; Miteshkumar Patel of IL, who received a sentence of 20 years in prison, Hardik Patel also of IL, was given 15 years and Sunny Joshi of TX was sentenced to 12 years in prison. 22 of the defendants were also ordered to pay the victims restitution of $8.9 million and judgements of over $72 .9 million.
The defendants from India have not been arraigned yet.